The origins of Dr. Kano’s
Kodokan Judo

Creation of Kodokan Judo happened at the critical turning point in the modern Japanese history.

Late 19th century in Japan has been time of big and, historically, rapid changes.

With demise of samurai society after Meiji Revolution the old jujutsu combat skills headed toward extinction. Schools closed for luck of students. Teachers changed primary occupation or leaved in poverty. In ideal New Meiji World of Law and Enlightenment citizens not expected to reserve to violence to resolve their differences. In ideal…

But the world of a boarding school never was ideal and freshmen student Jigaro knew it first hand. Been small statute and quiet he often failed victim of his older and larger pears.

Jigaro Kano needed Judo and since it wasn’t around yet, he created it.

According to his biography, Jigaro Kano asked friend of his father, headmaster of Tenjin Shinyo ryu school of jujitsu Fukuda Hachinosuke, to teach him to fight.

It was a strange request: in Meiji Japan of 1880th the original Japanese traditions considered to be sub-prime to the Western and Jigaro, son of a medical doctor, wasn’t expected to be interested in. But he was.

After Tenjin Shinyo ryu, he studied Kito ryu under Tsunetoshi Iikubo.

After resolving his original issue and securing his standing among his pears, he became interested in The Art itself (I know how its happens -:). And it started the process that transformed jujutsu into Judo.

It’s countless materials on history of Judo and I don’t need to repeat it there. However, it worth noting that key difference is in the name: Ju-Jutsu vs. Ju-Do.

In Japanese language ‘Ju’ is ‘softness’. The meaning of ‘Jutsu’ is ‘art’ while meaning of ‘Do’ is ‘way’ (not as a distance, but in philosophical sense).

By preserving ‘Ju’, Dr. Kano stated that physical attributes aren’t changing.

By changing ‘Jutsu’ to ‘Do’, Dr. Kano stated that it’s intended as a life-long study discipline (a half century later following example of Dr. Kano, Morihei Ueshiba changed name of Aikijutsu to Aikibudo and, finally, to Aikido ).

On July 25, 1905 representatives of the leading jujutsu schools of Japan agreed upon subordination to Kodokan Judo and became its representatives.

Five years later Judo became official combat system of Japan and was adopted for Japan’s educational system.



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